Jameson Williams spent most of Sunday standing patiently alongside Detroit Lions receivers coach Antwaan Randle El on the sideline waiting for a chance to enter the game. At one point in the fourth quarter, fans chanted, "We want Ja-mo."
Williams, the No. 12 pick in April's NFL draft, played six snaps and did not catch a pass in Sunday's 40-14 blowout of the Jacksonville Jaguars, but still left coaches and teammates convinced of his future stardom after a quiet NFL debut.
"I think as a rookie he's going to want to come out and light the world on fire, as we all do want him to," Lions quarterback Jared Goff said. "But he's going to have his plays that he's going to know and he's going to be good at, and we're going to roll with him on those and whatever that may be.
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"I just don't want you guys to set expectations so high. He's a rookie. He hasn't had any reps and as time goes, he will be that guy. He really will be. He's got everything it takes to be that guy, that premier threat in this league and I'm excited to watch him grow into that."
Activated from the nonfootball injury list Saturday, Williams, who tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in his final college game Jan. 10, saw his first NFL action Sunday on the Lions' second offensive snap. He lined up as the lone receiver to the right of scrimmage and he took a few steps on a decoy route as Goff handed the ball to Jamaal Williams.
Jameson Williams played just one more offensive snap in the first half, on another running play, and ran two routes in four offensive snaps in the second half.
The Lions (5-7) appeared to call a play for Williams on the first snap of the third quarter, but Williams stumbled off the line of scrimmage against a jam from cornerback Tyson Campbell, and Goff checked the ball down to Brock Wright for a 14-yard gain.
Later in the period, Williams ran a go route down the sideline as the lone receiver split right of scrimmage but veered out of bounds as he lunged unsuccessfully for the pass.
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"Wish we connected, but it was good to get a rep with him there," Goff said. "But yeah, it'll progress from here. It'll be more probably next week. How much, I don't know, but make sure he's dialed in on his packages, and he'll do a great job. He's like you said, a thoroughbred and a guy that, as good as we are at receiver right now and the health we have, can add to that group and make it even more explosive."
Lions coach Dan Campbell said Williams' debut, after just two weeks of practice - one of them consisting solely of walk-throughs - was mostly about "getting his legs under him." Williams played primarily on early downs and when the Lions had the ball in the middle of the field, and he typically lined up as the lone receiver on his side of scrimmage.
"Go through pregame, be on the sideline, you got your pads on, run into a huddle, run out, line up, wrestle with someone one-on-one a little bit," Campbell said. "It was really that, just to get him somewhat acclimated, very much like we did (with cornerback) Jerry Jacobs in (his first game back from a torn ACL). That's really what this was. He's going to get a little bit more next week. This was just primer for him. Let's just get his legs under him so he can get a feel. It's his first NFL game, so we're good."
Campbell said the Lions did plan to give Williams more playing time - as a gunner on punt team - but those plans were foiled by the Lions' efficient play.
The Lions scored on their first eight offensive possessions Sunday and did not punt, taking two-kneel down snaps to end the game on their only drive that did not result in points.
"We felt like that was the biggest impact he could have today," Campbell said. "That we knew just outright because he can run. And he can do it, he's tough, he's physical, and he was all for it. But we didn't punt."
As dominant as the Lions offense was Sunday, Campbell said it was the defense that set the tone for the day by forcing a fumble on Jacksonville's second offensive play.
"Set the whole tone for the game," Campbell said. "I mean, that's how you start. Honestly, when you start a game that way, you go out there on defense, you get a takeaway, and then we turn it into points like that, seven points. And then you come out in the third quarter and your offense takes it all the way down for a touchdown. That's how you got to start. Defense showed up I thought. They played well."
Jacksonville running back Travis Etienne opened the game with a 4-yard gain, then broke a 13-yard run on the next play before DeShon Elliott ripped the ball out of his hands. Alex Anzalone recovered, and the Lions scored seven plays later on Jamaal Williams' run.
Asked if Etienne was carrying the ball too loose, Elliott said, "Nah, he thought I was a punk so I had to show him what it was and what it wasn't. So, I'm like that, he forgot that, so that's what it was."
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Lions still big on Jameson Williams after quiet debut